As has become Top Gear tradition, after seven series the old Reasonably Priced Car is retired (or in the case of the last one, crushed under a chimney) and replaced by a new lamb to the slaughter.
The £9995 ($17,300) Suzuki Liana was (ab)used for the first seven series around the 12-corner 2.82km Top Gear test track at Dunsfold Aerodrome, Surrey, between 2002 and 2005.
For series eight to 14 the Chevrolet Lacetti was punished by another 57 guests, with Jamiroquai’s Jay Kay beating off Kevin McCloud and Brian Johnson to top the board at 1:45.81.
And now for the 15
series – the first episode of which aired on BBC2 in the UK on Sunday night – the £13,930 cee’d 2 has been put through its paces by eight guests to get the new board rolling, with one guest’s time especially impressive.
The 1.6-litre manual cee’d produces 92kW of power and 153Nm of torque, and although it is capable of returning fuel consumption figures of 6.1 litres/100km combined and CO2 emissions of 146g/km, it is unlikely to match that on the show.
Some companies would be embarrassed by the Reasonably Priced Car title, but not Kia.
Kia Motors UK communications director, Stephen Kitson, said Kia was more than happy to comply when a white-helmeted mystery man requested it provide three identical red cars for the latest series of the show.
“The last time Top Gear paid us any attention I think they tried to build one of our cars out of washing machines – so this is quite a step forward in their understanding of just how Kia has changed over the last six years,” Mr Kitson said.“The cee’d has become a strong player in the mid-sized family car market and just this year J.D.Power named it best small-medium car in their annual quality survey – so it should stand up well to anything the star guests can throw at it.”